Jacksonville City Council At-Large Group 5

This race is open to all voters, regardless of party affiliation

None of the six candidates in this race received more than 50% of the vote in the March election. The top two vote-getters, Republican Chris Miller and Democrat Charles Garrison, advance to the May runoff, which is open to all voters.

News4Jax sent a questionnaire to each candidate asking about their background and their views on several issues. Scroll down to read the responses of those seeking your vote -- in their own words.

Note: Responses are sorted alphabetically and are presented exactly as submitted, with no editing by News4Jax staff.

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Charles Garrison

Party affiliation: Democratic Party

Occupation: Construction

Age: 35

Your family: My two rescue dogs, Scrappy and Bailey

Education: Bachelor of Science in Finance with a minor in Banking Services from Florida State College at Jacksonville

Political experience: Passionate Champion for Community Service: A first-time candidate for office with a relentless drive to serve and support all of our neighbors. Currently serving as the chair of the Water Committee on the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board and having previously served on the Jacksonville Housing and Community Development Commission, I have a proven track record of working towards sustainability and addressing housing issues in the community. My passion for making a positive impact began early in life, while in high school, as a former page to Florida State Senator Stephen Wise and as the chair of the Clay County Young Republicans. I am dedicated to creating a better community for all through my commitment to service and leadership.

Over the last few months, we surveyed News4JAX Insiders to find out what they saw as the top issues facing our city, ahead of the city elections. These issues below are the top three – how would you address each one if elected?

Voters’ No. 1 issue: Crime

My vision of building a safe, welcoming, and vibrant city is dependent on us tackling our crime issues. We can tackle them through investing in our infrastructure, neighborhoods, and people. As with most issues, I’ll take a holistic approach, focusing on both immediate and long-term solutions that address both the symptoms and underlying causes of crime in Jacksonville. Focusing on the immediate issue, I would work to increase funding for community policing programs, which have been shown to be effective in building trust between law enforcement and the community. This would involve hiring more officers, increasing training and resources, and building stronger partnerships with community organizations. Looking more towards long-term solutions, I would focus on building our communities and neighborhoods, as supporting our neighborhoods is crucial for building a safe and vibrant city. This means investing in community programs and services through local organizations that provide youth programs, job training, education and employment opportunities, mental health services for at-risk individuals., promoting housing affordability, and encouraging economic development in all areas of the city. By focusing on our neighborhoods, we can create safe and welcoming communities where people want to live, work, and raise their families.

Voters’ No. 2 issue: Affordable Housing

Housing affordability is crucial in ensuring that every member of our community has a safe and stable place to call home. To address this issue, we need an approach that considers the needs of both renters and homeowners, including:

• Encouraging the development of affordable housing options through incentives for developers and by removing barriers to development.

• Working with community organizations and non-profits to provide support and resources to those who are struggling with housing affordability.

• Expanding access to down payment assistance and other financial resources to help make homeownership more accessible for those who are low- and moderate-income.

• Addressing the root causes of the housing affordability crisis, such as rising cost of living, stagnant wages, and lack of available housing, through targeted policies and initiatives.

• Increasing transparency and accountability in the rental market to ensure safe and healthy living conditions for renters.

Ultimately, my goal is to work with all stakeholders and community members to develop and implement practical solutions that make housing more affordable and accessible for all.

Voters’ No. 3 issue: Infrastructure

infrastructure is essential for economic growth and development in Jacksonville. I recognize the unfulfilled promises from consolidation and believe it’s crucial to deliver results equitably to our community. As a member of the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board, I’ve seen the impact of inadequate infrastructure on our communities and environment, and I’m dedicated to finding solutions. I will work with city leaders, businesses, and residents to prioritize critical infrastructure projects and allocate resources effectively. Investing in infrastructure will enhance transportation and connectivity, making it easier for businesses to operate and for residents to access resources and opportunities. It will also improve public safety, reduce flooding, and increase access to clean water and sanitation. By investing in infrastructure, we can create a more sustainable, resilient city that will attract new businesses, residents, and investments. My focus will be on:

• Routine maintenance and upgrades of essential public facilities to prevent costly repairs and extend the life of these assets.

• Collaborating with local businesses and organizations to find new funding sources and financing options, such as public-private partnerships and grants, for rehabilitation and replacement of aging infrastructure.

• Incorporating innovative technologies and best practices to maximize efficiency, performance, and reduce maintenance costs, such as smart grid technologies for energy systems and advanced materials in new facility construction.

• Engaging the community through regular public meetings and town hall forums to ensure everyone’s needs and concerns are considered while addressing the issue of aging infrastructure.

Beyond those three issues, what do you see as the top issue you’ll likely face while holding this office?

Restoring the basic tenets of trust and transparency should be a top priority for any elected official. I’m committed to doing what’s right without exception, even if it means tackling tough issues that others may shy away from. This includes removing vestiges of the Confederacy from public property, as well as protecting all residents from threats of terror and hate. I understand that restoring trust in our government requires more than just words. That’s why I am committed to implementing a transparent and accountable governance model that prioritizes community engagement and collaboration. This includes regularly engaging with our neighbors, responding to questions and concerns in a timely manner, and being open and honest about the challenges we face as a city. I believe that by working together and building bridges across the community, we can build a safe, welcoming, and vibrant city.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I bring a unique combination of skills, experience, and commitment that sets me apart from others. In addition to my passion for serving our community, my military background has taught me the importance of leadership, discipline, and teamwork, skills that are essential in getting things done effectively and efficiently. I have served on the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board, where I chair the Water Committee, and I have previously served on the Jacksonville Housing and Community Development Commission, demonstrating my commitment to sustainability, and addressing housing issues in the community.

I have a deep understanding of the issues facing our community, and I am dedicated to finding solutions that will benefit everyone. I believe that by working together, we can make a real difference in the lives of our neighbors in Jacksonville. Whether it’s improving our infrastructure, addressing housing affordability, or restoring trust and transparency in our local government, I am committed to doing what’s right, even when it’s tough.

I am committed to bringing a fresh perspective, new ideas, and a collaborative approach to this office. I believe that by listening to the needs and concerns of our community, and by working with city leaders, businesses, and our neighbors to find solutions, I can help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

After serving our neighbors, I hope to be remembered for having made a positive, lasting impact on the community. Specifically, I would hope to be remembered for having tackled difficult and complex issues, while always putting the needs of the community first. This would include making significant investments in infrastructure, improving housing affordability, protecting the environment, and ensuring that all of our neighbors have access to quality schools and job opportunities. Additionally, I would hope to be remembered for having brought transparency and accountability back to government, and for having worked tirelessly to restore trust in our leaders. As a veteran, I have a deep sense of duty and a commitment to serving others, and I would hope that this dedication to service is what I am remembered for most after my time in office. Ultimately, my goal is to leave a lasting legacy of progress and prosperity for future generations, and to make Jacksonville a better place for all who call it home.

Campaign website: www.charlesforjax.com

Social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Chris Miller

Party affiliation: Republican

Occupation: District Director, U.S. Representative John Rutherford

Age: 60

Your family: Wife, Char. Dogs, Rescue Weimaraner, Baron and Frenchie, Pearl

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Industrial Relations, Master of Business Administration, Management, and Master of Arts, Strategic Studies

Political experience: This is my first time running for elected office.

Over the last few months, we surveyed News4JAX Insiders to find out what they saw as the top issues facing our city, ahead of the city elections. These issues below are the top three – how would you address each one if elected?

Voters’ No. 1 issue: Crime

Public Safety is the number one responsibility of our city government. I will work to ensure we are exploring and implementing all types of Prevention, Intervention and Enforcement measures to improve Public Safety for all of Jacksonville. To do this, we need every city, community, business, faith based, nonprofit and other leaders all working together. We also need to support law enforcement and give them the number of officers and tools they need to adequately protect our growing city.

Voters’ No. 2 issue: Affordable Housing

The national increase in inflation and mortgage rates over the past two years has made it even more difficult for most hard-working families to afford a house of their own. There are few things that give more pride and a sense of accomplishment than owning your own home. I will work to ensure the city is working with builders and developers to increase the percentage of affordable housing units for each proposed new community. I will also explore the various state and federal funding sources and public private partnerships to help pay for these and other initiatives.

Voters’ No. 3 issue: Infrastructure

There has been a lot of population growth in Jacksonville and throughout Florida over recent years. One of the biggest challenges our city has is providing the needed infrastructure to support this growth. I will ensure our city is more focused on the long term and planning three, five and ten years out for growth rather than reacting and trying to catch-up after the fact. An initiative I will pursue is objectively assessing the roads, sidewalks, drainage, bridges, parks, playgrounds, services, and other things the city is responsible for providing and maintaining for all communities of Jacksonville. We should then set a minimum acceptable level for each area and prioritize projects until all communities are above that level. Once all communities are above that level, we will raise the bar.

Beyond those three issues, what do you see as the top issue you’ll likely face while holding this office?

Business and Economic Development – I will lead the charge for Jacksonville to become the most business-friendly city in the Southeast. If small and large businesses are succeeding, their workers and families will thrive as well. Their success also provides most of the revenues we need to help Jacksonville develop and realize its potential as a great city – a city where everyone is proud to live and work. And a city where families want to raise their children and grandchildren.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

For Jacksonville to become a great city, we need to choose the right leaders, with the right experience, for the right positions. I have the real and relevant experience that no other candidate in my race for Jacksonville City Council, At-Large, Group 5 has. During my 30 years of active-duty service in the U.S. Army, I was the City Mayor and City Manager for an Army City of 17 bases in Germany. I made the decisions the City Council Members make and managed a budget of over $333 million for services, operations and contracting. I was also the Inspector General for U.S. European forces and improved U.S. programs and partnerships throughout Europe and Israel. I was then the Inspector General with the Florida National Guard and covered Florida. I ensured accountability, transparency, and effectiveness. After retiring as a full Colonel, I have helped various Jacksonville small businesses and nonprofits. I have also served as Congressman Rutherford’s District Director for the past six years, helping residents of Jacksonville and throughout Northeast Florida resolve their concerns with various federal agencies. I am ready to put my experience to work for the people of Jacksonville. As a City Councilman, I will lead with honor, integrity and ensure that our local government is living up to its full potential.

Also, I have formed very good working relationships with many City, State and Federal government leaders and will draw on those relationships to proactively move Jacksonville forward.

I am humbled and blessed to have among my current endorsements, Congressman John Rutherford, Congressman Michael Waltz, Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters, Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police, Jacksonville City Council President Terrance Freeman, Jacksonville City Council Member Aaron Bowman, Jacksonville City Council Member Kevin Carrico, Jacksonville City Council Member Rory Diamond, Jacksonville City Council Member Nick Howland, Jacksonville City Council Member Randy White, Duval County Clerk of Courts Jody Phillips, Neptune Beach Mayor Elaine Brown, Former Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser, Former City Council Member Jim Love, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Florida First Coast Chapter, JAXBIZ of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Fraternal Order of Police Associates 5-30, and the National Association of Retired Cops Jacksonville Chapter

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

After serving as your Jacksonville City Councilman, At-Large, Group 5, I would hope to be remembered as the commonsense servant leader who worked well with others and helped Jacksonville become the best city it can be. For many years, we have talked about the tremendous potential our very good city has. I will have succeeded as your City Councilman, if I am remembered as the person who cared, listened, rolled up his sleeves, did the demanding work and helped Jacksonville realize its potential as a great ocean and river city to live, work, visit and enjoy.

Campaign website: VoteChrisMiller.com

Social media: Facebook